Who is Etienne Gilson?June 25, 2021
Etienne Gilson KFrench historian of philosophy and philosopher. He especially worked on the history of the Middle Ages.
The medieval historian, French philosopher Étienne Gilson, one of the most outstanding international scholars of the 20th century, was born on June 13, 1884, in Paris. He received his education in Catholic schools in Paris. He began his studies in philosophy in 1902 and received a baccalaureate from the Sorbonne (University of Paris) in 1906. He taught philosophy for six years. He received his doctorate in 1913, where he researched René Descartes and scholasticism. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Verdun in 1916. During his two years in prison, he learned the Russian language and St. He studied Bonaventure’s thoughts.
Gilson studied at the Petit Seminai-re de Notre-Dame-des Champs and the Sorbonne. He worked as a high school teacher for several years and conducted various philosophical researches at the Sorbonne. He received his doctorate in 1913 with his thesis on Descartes philosophy. He taught medieval philosophy at the University of Lille, the Universities of Strasbourg and the Sorbonne, and the College de France. He is also a student of Lucien Levy-Bruhl.
Gilson, who served in the French army in the First World War and was captured in the Battle of Verdun in 1915, was liberated at the end of the war. Later, with his studies, he was considered an expert on the philosophy of the Middle Ages; In 1929, he was appointed as the director of the Medieval Institute of the Papacy, and in 1947 he was elected a member of the French Academy. He left his post at the College de France in 1951 and became head of the Institute for Medieval Studies, which he founded at the University of Toronto in 1927.
In 1919 he began working as a professor of the history of philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. He returned to the University of Paris in 1921 and taught the history of medieval philosophy. From 1926 he visited the United States and Canada, teaching at the universities of Montreal, Harvard and Virginia. At the invitation of the Congregation of the Priests of St Basil, St. Michael’s College, he founded the Institute for Medieval Studies.
Gilson has focused on philosophers and theologians whose works have not been studied. He suggested that theology covers a rather broad problem domain, not a uniform one, as has been suggested so far. He was influenced by the thinking of Thomas Aquino and concluded that Thomasism was a unique blend of ancient Greek thought and Christianity. Instead of combining Thomasism with contemporary philosophy, he chose to apply the metaphysics developed by Thomas to contemporary problems. He defended the view that many new problems emerged in human thought as a result of the mixture of Christianity and Greek philosophy.
According to Gilson’s understanding, these new problems, fed by the inspirations arising from religion, were examined by logicians who benefited from the methods of philosophy, thus they were pushed out of their field. For this reason, it is necessary to see theology and philosophy as fields of existence with separate structures. In particular, the application of philosophy methods by sciences dealing with religion does not solve the problems. The working methods of these two fields, which have separate structures, are also different. Although their structures are separate, these entities affect each other.
Most of his known books were based on his lectures. L’Esprit de la Philosophie Médiévale (1932; The Spirit of Mediæval Philosophy), in which he advocated the idea of Christian philosophy, is one such source. Among his other works are The Unity of Philosophical Experience (1937), Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages (1938), and Being and Some Philosophers (1949), which can be considered among the most important works written on the history of philosophy.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook
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